NASA’s Opportunity Rover Creates Off-Earth Roving Distance Record of 25 miles

NASA's Opportunity Mars rover has travelled a distance of 25 miles on the red planet. NASA announced that the rover that landed on Mars in 2004 now holds the off-Earth roving distance record.

Mars Exploration Rover Project Manager John Callas, of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, stated that no other wheeled vehicle than Opportunity has driven this far. It is an important achievement of Opportunity as it was not meant for distance and was intended to drive around 1 km.

"But what really important is not how many miles the rover has racked up, but how much exploration and discovery we have accomplished over that distance", affirmed Callas. In 2011, the rover had travelled more than 20 miles and by July 27, its total mileage was at 25.01 miles.

As per experts, it would be great if the rover continues to travel at the same pace. By going at this speed, Opportunity rover will approach the next major investigation site dubbed 'Marathon Valley'. The spacecraft orbiting Mars has given a hint of presence of many clay minerals at the valley site.

Previous record is with the Russian Lunokhod 2 rover. It landed on earth's moon on January 15, 1973. On the basis of calculations made from NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) cameras, it has been found that Lunokhod 2 rover has travelled around 24.2 miles in less than five months.

Though it is a big achievement by Opportunity, its glamour was stolen by NASA's most recent Mars rover, Curiosity, which was launched in August 2012.

John Callas